Doomed Star Eta Carinae
A huge, billowing pair of gas and dust clouds are captured in this stunning NASA Hubble Space
Telescope image (September 1995) of the supermassive star Eta Carinae.
Eta Carinae was the site of a giant outburst about 150 years ago, when it
became one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Though the star
released as much visible light as a supernova explosion, it survived the
outburst. Somehow, the explosion produced two polar lobes and a large thin
equatorial disk, all moving outward at about 1.5 million miles per hour.
Estimated to be 100 times more massive than our Sun, Eta Carinae may be one of
the most massive stars in our Galaxy. It radiates about five million times
more power than our Sun. The star remains one of the great mysteries of
stellar astronomy, and the new Hubble images raise further puzzles.